What steals your joy? What ruins your day? What overwhelms you? And would not having electricity in your home for six days straight be an answer to “all of the above”?
For those of you who know our story, I am not ask those questions hypothetically.
Due to epic winds that battered Michigan last week, the power went out at our house on Wednesday March 8th and it did not come back on until Monday March 13th.
Six nights without power, totaling 127 hours.
But I’m not writing this blog to complain or to remind everyone that a billion people around the world don’t have electricity to start with. I’m writing for another reason.
Because during that power outage, God taught me a lot.
To explain what I mean by that, I need to take your eyes off of March 2017 and look into eternity. Here is what Jesus said:
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3)
That is the future for the children of God. And with this reality in mind, here is a quote from theologian Gordon Fee from his book God’s Empowering Presence:
Such future-oriented people live in the present in a way different from the rest . . . so confident of the future that they can pour themselves into the present with utter abandon, full of joy and peace, because nothing in the present can ultimately overwhelm them.
I love that quote, although it convicted me big time. Because I don’t live like that. I want to. But I don’t. So I thought I’d invite you to be convicted as well! 🙂 So here a question for you to reflect on: To what degree do you experience life that is full of joy and peace, because nothing in the present can ultimately overwhelm you?
In other words, no matter the struggle… the diagnosis… the loss… the relational problems… the uncertainty… the unmet expectation… nothing in the present should ultimately overwhelm us because of our inheritance of Heaven.
And not only that, but we should be filled with joy and peace and live our lives with utter abandon. Once again, that is the goal and I am far from living that way 24/7.
Going back to the power outage this past week, I became convinced more than ever of the truth of this Scripture: And Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:13).
God wants us to be like little children just like my three incredible daughters Faith, Evelyn, and Elizabeth (ages 9, 8, and 6).
When the power went out, yes it disrupted their lives, yes it made things more complicated, yes it kept them from doing some of things they wanted to do that week. But here is the key: The girls were so confident in Kellie and me — that we were a good good father and mother — that they had no fear, no worry, no concern. They weren’t overwhelmed by the power outage. Not by a long shot. Instead they were full of joy and peace.
In fact, as I was talking to Evelyn (age 8) just after we lost power on Wednesday, I told her I wanted her to pray that we would get our power back on (because she is a prayer warrior even at such a young age). She replied, “I’m not sure I want to pray that dad. Because if we get our power back, then we won’t get to have a sleepover at Grandma’s!” 🙂
And sure enough, we not only had one sleepover at Grandma Linda’s we had five more sleepovers at Grandma Kopp’s. In their eyes, we should lose our power more often! 🙂
As I reflected on the power outage and how the girls handled it, I realized God wants us to have that same level of fearless faith and complete trust in Him.
Even when things don’t go right.
And in writing that I realize sometimes things go really wrong. Thankfully, they didn’t in this case. Even though our house got down to 45 degrees, it didn’t get cold enough for our pipes to freeze and burst. And when the power came back on, our furnace fired right up.
But sometimes things really do go wrong. You know that. I know that. And the reason they do isn’t because God isn’t a good good Father, but because we live in a spiritual battle, far from Eden. In Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis wrote, “Enemy occupied territory – that is what this world is.”
So when things go really bad, I cling to this verse: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose… (Romans 8:28).
Our Father in Heaven doesn’t cause the bad things that happen. But when they do, He is always at work. And good will ultimately come out of every bad thing. Because God is good.
***This coming Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church is going to be a special one for a number of reasons: it’s the final day of our Family on Mission series (I can’t wait to preach my sermon!)… it’s Pledge Sunday for our future building… and it’s an all-church party & celebration. We are praying that over 200 people from our “immediate” and “extended” church family COME to church at 10:30am… and then STAY for the party! Lunch is being catered. Plus, there will be fun for God’s “children” of all ages! More info at tevchurch.org***